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Enabling Communities

'Enabling Communities' is about us setting out a clear plan of how we will support local communities to do more for themselves, and have greater influence and control over their local environment and the services that are provided.

This approach is central to delivering the East Suffolk Business Plan objectives of improving the quality of life of local people, by building sustainable and thriving communities through empowerment, enabling and capacity building.

We will work with and bring local people together across identified areas of economic and community interest, based upon a number of factors:

  • Interests - the issues and concerns that bind a community together, separate it from others, and make it unique
  • Community groups and demographics
  • Economic connections
  • Local facilities such as shops, medical services, education, leisure etc
  • Transport links and geographic boundaries

The active co-operation and leadership of district councillors is essential for the successful delivery of the Enabling Communities Strategy.

They will be supported by community based staff and Community Action Suffolk. Additional support will be provided by others working for the district council, county council, the police, voluntary and private sectors and in health. These will include sector specialists in areas such as economic development, education, planning, highways, housing, coast and flood management, tourism, resort or countryside management.

The district councillors have a crucial role in identifying, engaging, inspiring and working with key local representatives, community activists, and businesses – basically, the 'movers and shakers' in each local area.

For us 'enabling' is not a political philosophy or set of legislative rights. It is about embedding a particular culture and approach to working with local people to deliver more with our communities.

We believe that the best way to empower people is to make the area where they live or work, into the place they want it to be, is by asking them what they want to do and helping them to achieve it.

This is both an extension and simplification of the successful Community-Led Planning approach. But now the focus is upon local responsibility and delivery by a community within real 'communities of interest', rather than simply a single parish or town council area.

This approach will require more of an ongoing dialogue across a network of people, rather than formal engagement with the council. A flexible approach to delivery through natural conversations with each community will need to be tailored to suit the skills, needs and aspirations of each place and at different points in time.

A variety of tools and resources are available to support each community achieving what they want.

District councillors will work with their local communities to establish what their priorities are, then guide them to use the most appropriate tools and resources to achieve what the community wants.

Potential tools and resources include:

What do you want to do? What’s the tool?
We have ideas about how our neighbourhood or community should develop? Neighbourhood Planning
Community Right to Build
Housing Need Assessments
Community Infrastructure Levy
Right to approve / veto excessive Council Tax rises
We want to stop a local places such as our pub, shop or community centre from closing? Community Right to Bid
Community Asset Transfer
We want to raise money for local community projects? Community shares
Suffolk Community Foundation
East Suffolk funding support (eg Council grants)
We have ideas about how to fix local problems? Our Place (Neighbourhood Community Budgets)
Enabling Communities Budget
We think we could run a local public service better than how it currently is being delivered? Community Right to Challenge
We want to run our community with our neighbours? Become a parish/town councillor
We could improve the way local social housing is managed? Become a Flagship Housing Board member
We could make better use of vacant or underused land or buildings in our community? Right to reclaim land
Compulsory Purchase Order
We want to find new ways to work with others in our community? Digital support
We want to remove a specific piece of central government red tape? Sustainable Communities Act powers

Roles and responsibilities

District councillors are key to the successful delivery of this strategy. As the community leaders, they are central to creating a 'bottom up' approach to identifying and delivering the requirements of each community of interest.

Councillors will act as both the catalyst and glue for local delivery, identifying and building the networks required of key stakeholders and act as community ambassadors, engaging and facilitating productive discussions to produce action on projects - and troubleshooting to overcome any blockages that prevent progress towards the successful delivery of the community's wishes.

Our Community and Economic Services Officers will support the ward councillors in carrying out their roles by providing specialist, service-based advice and guidance regarding the available localism tools and opportunities.

They will support each community of interest to identify and co-ordinate any additional resources needed to deliver that community’s ambitions and work with councillors and key stakeholders to identify and build any additional capacity and skills needed in each community.

Further information and support